IS THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES BEING PRIVATIZED?
I’m a high school student. We will be having a debate about the privatization of U.P.. I just want to ask some opinions from you, sir, what do you think? It would be very much appreciated. Thank you so much.
– MARIELLE FORTUNOBA
Nov. 22, 2008
Thank you for your question which many Filipino high school students (and parents) today are asking because of their concern that, even if they qualify in the U.P.College Admission Test (UPCAT), they might not afford U.P. anymore.
The University of the Philippines as a whole cannot be privatized as it is still even in its new 2008 U.P. charter a StateUniversity. This is because a large part of its operations is still funded by Filipino taxpayers. However, some parts of the U.P. have been privatized or commercialized in the sense that these have been bidded out and outsourced to the private sector to operate and manage. Examples are the janitorial services, the security guards (though we still have a small U.P. police force), the food concessionaires, the printing of U.P. publications, etc… Through these privatized services of U.P., the administration hopes to save money and even earn income to augment the lack of funds coming from the national government subsidy.
Today, I am more concerned about the tuition fee increases at U.P. and where these will lead to. In June 2007, U.P. increased its undergrad tuition by 300%, and its Board of Regents decided also to increase tuition fee EVERY YEAR based on the national inflation rate.
As an alternative to tuition fee increases which I oppose in principle because of the defective socialized tuition fee assistance program, it is my view that U.P. can generate additional funds through the lease of its land assets, such as its almost 25,000 hectares of land nationwide. It can double its present budget coming from the national government. Here you should distinguish between the commercialization of assets from the commercialization of U.P. education which is out of the question. The tapping of U.P. land assets has already been started with the 38 hectares of its Commonwalth property in Quezon City near Iglesia ni Cristo , where U.P. will be paid 170 million pesos a year for 25 years as rental of that land from Ayala Lands Corporation. This doesn’t sound too bad, and I consider this as a good deal. Compare this with the previous situation where U.P. had to spend millions of pesos in security and litigation trying to defend unused land from illegal settlers and from landgrabbers. I have taken the view that this is the best alternative in the meantime to the tuition and miscellaneous fee increases which have become so exorbitant to ordinary Filipino families.
But this should not be the permanent set-up. The ideal situation is still one where basic social services such as all levels of education would be fully subsidized by the state. Where education becomes a right, not a privilege of those only who can afford. Right now , if U.P. will not tap its unused assets, where will it get its funds which are always short of what the national government is giving it every year? Where will it get its funds to maintain its standards, its facilities, and keep its best professors, and for salary/wage/allowance adjustments for its faculty and staff? University administration cannot sit idly by with all its vast lands also sitting idle.
You can read more about my views as well as others’ views on this issue of privatization and commercialization of U.P. in Yonip’s archive section (see University of the Philippines Matters).
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on Jan 2nd 2009